Gelatin: My New Favorite Superfood

greatlakesPregnancy has been a catalyst for many new things in my life, one of those being the discovery of nutritional powerhouses, like Mr. grass-fed gelatin.  And it didn’t take me long to uncover all of it’s amazing healing qualities, for pregnant women and for non-pregnant people alike.

WHAT:

  • Gelatin is the collagen found in the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals (the powder form I use comes from cows).  Think of roasting a chicken.  You know all those glorious juices that fall to the bottom of the roasting tray?  A lot of that is the collagen/gelatin.  Stick it in the fridge and you’ll see it turn to jelly.
  • Like everything we put into our bodies, it’s important to consider the source!  We want the gelatin that we’re ingesting to be sourced from animals that have eaten naturally and lived good lives, like the humanely treated, grass-fed cows from Great Lakes.  It’s just common sense really.  If the cows are living stressful lives and eating rubbish food, we will take in that nutrition and energy as well.

WHY:

  • amino acidSkin health:  Improves elasticity and smoothes those wrinkles.  Gelatin is basically collagen and that’s what your skin needs more of to stay healthy.  It’s also packed full of amino acids, the one in greatest amount being glycine.  Just check out the profile from Great Lakes by clicking on the picture to the right.  These amino acids are the building blocks of your body, including the health and wholeness of your skin.
  • Joint health:  Helps with arthritis because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And again, those amazing amino acids, help to strengthen and repair the body, specifically in this case, the bones and cartilage.
  • Digestive health:  When I was battling with my own digestive distress, I started to consume homemade chicken broth on a daily basis, which was full of gelatin, and I have no doubt it was fundamental in aiding my digestive tract to heal and come back into balance.  It was so so soothing to the lining … I could literally feel it healing me.  Aside from my personal experience, you will not be hard-pressed to find many well-known, highly respected doctors, authors, etc singing the praises of the wonderful benefits that bone broths have on digestive health.  One of my favorites is Dr. Natasha Campbell, author of GAPS.
  • Better sleep:  Ingestion of glycine before bed has been shown to improve the quality of night time sleep.

HOW:

  • Roasting bone-in meat such as chicken, lamb, or one of my new personal favorites, oxtail.
  • Bone broths.  After roasting, you can chose to throw the bones and gelatin into your slow cooker with some water, and simmer on low for up to 12 hours.  This will help to extract even more of the vitamins and minerals within the bones and give you a tasty way to ingest the gelatin.
  • Powder form.  Add a grass-fed powdered gelatin to an array of foods to get your daily dose.  My favorite way of the moment is to make these super easy gummies, or by simply adding it to a warm water at night or a smoothie in the morning. But there are loads of other ways to eat it, just google ’til your heart’s content!  ***If adding to a hot drink, you first need to dissolve it in a bit of cold water, and then once dissolved you can add the hot water.  ***Also, 1 Tbsp of powder is good for about 1 pint of liquid.
  • *** There is an opinion that it is best to ingest gelatin on an empty stomach, either 30 minutes before consumption of food or 2 hours after.  Dr. David G Young, a naturopath from Oregon, believes that if it’s taken with food, it will only be used for energy/calories, but if it’s taken on an empty stomach it will actually be reversed back into collagen, giving us the benefits we are looking for.  This is something worth considering.

Glorious Ghee: What, Why & How

purity-farmsHealth and wellness is a never-ending evolution.  A continual blossoming effect.  I am just having so much fun learning all this newness.

My latest discovery?  GHEE!  My attention was brought to this ancient product because it can withstand high heat without breaking down or degrading as other oils do.  Although coconut oil has been a great option to cook with (because it too can withstand high heat), sometimes you just don’t want that coconut taste.  But ghee ticks all the boxes.

An important thing to remember when looking for a good ghee product:  Make sure the cows are “pastured”, meaning that they eat GRASS and not grain.  One of the main reasons ghee is so good for us is because of all the green grass the cows have grazed on.  Don’t think this can be sidestepped or ignored.  It is the natural way and a very important detail.

WHAT

  • Boiled butter that turns into pure fat after the milk solids have been skimmed off the top.
  • Also known as clarified butter.
  • Casein-free.
  • Lactose-free.

WHY

  • Tastes so good.
  • Anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties.
  • A great source of saturated fat/cholesterol/MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides).  We need this stuff!  Saturated fat is very important for our nervous system and cholesterol is the base for all hormone production.  We will seriously break down without healthy fat in our diet.
  • A great source of fat-soluable vitamins: A, D, E, K.
  • One of the best sources of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  See here for CLA benefits.
  • Support brain function/memory.
  • Digestive aid.
  • Lubricates our joints and connective tissue.
  • First aid ointment.
  • A great lotion.
  • Has a really long shelf life; will not go rancid easily.

HOW

  • Check out the below video of my great friend Monica Yearwood explaining the process of making ghee at home.  She is an ayurvedic practitioner and owner of Hamsa Ayurveda and Yoga in Chicago IL!

Fermentation Dysbiosis: What is it and why does it occur?

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Dysbiosis was coined in the early 20th century by a doctor named Eli Metchnikoss.  He created the word by combining the root word “dys” (abnormal, ill or diseased) and the word “symbiosis” (a beneficial relationship between 2 organisms).  So dysbiosis essentially means “2 organisms not living in harmony with one another”.  It was this word that he used to describe the imbalance of good and bad bacteria within the body, or the disharmonious relationship between the microbe and the host body.  Dysbiosis is usually seen in the intestinal tract, but can also be found on the skin, vagina, lungs, nose, sinuses, ears, nails or eyes.  And the way it expresses itself in each person can be very different.  One person may develop eczema, while another will show signs of irritable bowel syndrome, and another still will struggle with an autoimmune disease.

I really do believe this unfriendly relationship happening between our bodies and bacteria is the root cause of so many health problems today.  Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this potentially devastating disharmony and treat the symptom(s) rather than the larger, true issue of dysbiosis.  Although there are several types of dysbiosis, let’s take a closer look at fermentation dysbiosis and uncover it’s symptoms, causes and treatments.

So what exactly is fermentation dysbiosis and why does it occur?  It is an overpopulation of unfriendly bacteria in the gut because of the overconsumption of carbohydrate, sugar-rich food.  Foods like alcohol (beer & wine), refined foods, flour, grains, fruit and especially refined sugar, are fuel for the bad bacteria.  They feed on the sugars and produce a by-product, just like every living thing does.  It’s this by-product, this excrement, that is fermented in the gut, creating gas and a bloated belly, which can further irritate the digestive tract to create constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches and an overall feeling of dis-ease.  If this behavior occurs repeatedly over time, chronic inflammation can occur and the disharmony can proliferate into more chronic issues such as candidiasis and leaky gut syndrome.

In addition to a poor diet, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics, oral contraceptives and antacids, as well as stress, can contribute to this imbalance.  They too are food for the bacteria to thrive on and weaken the immune system.  As well, foods that create a slower transit time, specifically high-fat and low fiber foods, are factors that can also play a part in this picture.

Thankfully, fermentation dysbiosis can usually be treated quite easily through diet change, although one may have to be quite strict, and this could prove difficult if you are experiencing intense cravings.  You should remove all refined foods, beer, wine, dairy, all sugars (refined, raw, honey, etc), grains and only consume low sugar fruits like berries.  Also increase intake of whole foods, lots of vegetables (plant fiber), limit meat consumption to a few times a week and supplement your diet with probiotic rich food like kimchi and sauerkraut.  To be extra vigilant, I would recommend consuming a probiotic pill daily to help support the body’s population of friendly bacteria.  Slippery elm tea is also very good at healing the digestive system.

In addition to these diet and supplemental changes, it is also very important to stop burdening the body with synthetic medications mentioned earlier.  Find other healthy, supportive options for yourself that will add to your well-being instead of subtract from it.  Also, exercise to combat any stress that could be contributing to this disharmony and to strengthen the immune system.  I am a big proponent of yoga, or anything that involves a combination of deep breathing, stretching and strengthening in a low-impact way.  I also love hiking, as it gets you outside and really benefits the body without stressing it out.

Your body can heal itself.  It is completely possible.  If you think you might be dealing with an imbalance of internal floral, try implementing some of the changes mentioned and see what happens.  It will be worth it, I promise!

 REFERENCES:

  1. Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski
  2. Total Body Tune-up by Dr. Michael Murray

 

Testing the Transit Time of Your Foods and Why It Can Help You

bowel
Transit time refers to the amount of time it takes ingested foods to move through the digestive system, from the time it is taken into the mouth, to the time it is eliminated through our bowel movements.  Testing the transit time of our diet is beneficial because it gives us a clearer picture of  what is going on inside our bodies and helps us to understand the possible problems that may be occurring.  If we discover our food is eliminated in 12 hours or less, this could be an indication that we are not absorbing adequate nutrients from the food, which can result in deficiencies and malnourishment.  If the foods are taking more than 30 hours to be eliminated, this is an indication of constipation, which can result in an increase of bad bacteria in the gut, inflammation throughout the digestive system or the reabsorption of fecal matter back into the bloodstream.
***
In order to test our food’s transit time, we need to ingest a marker, or rather, something that will be visible in our stool once it is eliminated.  Some of these markers include corn kernels, sesame seeds, charcoal tablets, beetroot or chlorophyll.  The marker you choose will depend on the general color of your stool and/or your personal preference.  If your stool is generally lighter in color then the best markers will be the darker ones, such as charcoal, beetroot or chlorophyll.  If your stool tends to be darker in color than you will find better success with the corn kernels or sesame seeds.  Some people recommend swallowing the kernels and seeds whole so they will be more visible, however this may not be necessary or desired.
***
Average transit time is anywhere between 12-72 hours, although optimal transit time is between 14-30 hours.  Our transit times will be determined by the foods we’re eating and our overall health, and will vary accordingly.  If we are ingesting mostly low-fat, fiber rich foods like fruits and veggies, and consuming hydrating drinks like water and fresh juices, the transit times will be shorter.  On the contrary, if we are ingesting mostly high-fat, drying foods like well-done meats and dairy, and consuming dehydrating drinks like alcohol and coffee, we will notice the transit times to be longer.
***
Directions for the transit time test are as follows:
  • The transit time will be conducted 3 times in order to establish accuracy.
  • While conducting the test, be sure to record food, liquid, exercise and stress levels on the Transit Time Record Form provided below.
  • After your first bowel movement of the day, ingest a chosen marker as specified above and record the time the marker is taken.
  • Observe the following bowel movements until you see the marker.  Record the time when it is first visible.
  • You will ingest the marker two more times, however, you will move the time that you ingest it in order to determine a more accurate transit time.

Here is an example to help you:

  1. Subject A has first bowel movement of the day at 10 a.m.
  2. She ingests a beetroot marker immediately after.
  3. The following day, Subject A’s first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. again and she is able to observe the bright red coloring of the beetroot.  So this tells her the transit time of her food was no more than 24 hours.
  4. To get a more accurate transit time, Subject A will move the time she ingests the marker.
  5. The next time her bowel movement is clear of any previously ingested marker, she will ingest the marker again, only 4 hours later.
  6. Her stool was clear the following day at 10 a.m.  She ingests the marker at 2 p.m.  The following day her marker is visible with her 10 a.m. bowel movement.  This indicates a transit time of no more than 20 hours.
  7. Again, the marker will be moved even more to determine if the transit time is even shorter.
  8. Once a marker-free stool is observed, Subject A will ingest a new marker, however this time it will be taken 6-8 hours after the bowel movement.
  9. Subject A’s next clear bowel movement is at 10 a.m. the following day.  The marker is ingested at 6 p.m. that evening.
  10. The following day her first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. and the marker is not present.  She can now determine her average transit time is roughly 20 hours.

Bone Broth Recipes for the Season

It’s definitely that time of year when drinking a cup of good bone broth really hits the spot and makes you feel all warm and good inside.  I’ve only discovered and started making my own broths this past year, but I know it will be something I’ll continue to do for the rest of my life.  Aside from being extremely nourishing and very healing to the digestive tract, it’s also such a great way to utilize every part of the animal.

In honor of this time of season, I wanted to share a great article entitled Broth is Beautiful by Sally Fallon.  She gives great information regarding these broths as well as a few recipes.  Please see below.

And I’ll share my process as well.  Here at our home, we eat lots of roast chickens, so our broths are usually chicken based.

  • Collect drippings from chicken after roasting and refrigerate.
  • Once drippings have cooled and solidified, skim off the fat and keep this refrigerated to cook with later.  I like to use it in veggie bakes.
  • Remove all meat from the carcass.
  • Put drippings, carcass, sea salt and Tbsp of vinegar (helps to draw out the good stuff from the bones) into large pot or slow-cooker.
  • Cover the carcass with filtered water.
  • In large pot on stovetop: cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to low heat for a simmer.  Simmer for several hours if possible.  I usually do at least do 3-4 hours, but others recommend 6-8.
  • In slow cooker:  Cover and put on low for up to 12 hours or longer!
  • Skim off any impurities that may float to the top.
  • Remove bones, add more sea salt to taste if desired, and serve.
  • We also like to add cabbage, serve in a big mug and eat with chopsticks!  How fun!

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BROTH IS BEAUTIFUL by Sally Fallon

“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” says a South American proverb. Said Escoffier: “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.”A cure-all in traditional households and the magic ingredient in classic gourmet cuisine, stock or broth made from bones of chicken, fish and beef builds strong bones, assuages sore throats, nurtures the sick, puts vigor in the step and sparkle in love life–so say grandmothers, midwives and healers. For chefs, stock is the magic elixir for making soul-warming soups and matchless sauces.Meat and fish stocks play a role in all traditional cuisines—French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern and Russian. In America, stock went into gravy and soups and stews. That was when most animals were slaughtered locally and nothing went to waste. Bones, hooves, knuckles, carcasses and tough meat went into the stock pot and filled the house with the aroma of love. Today we buy individual filets and boneless chicken breasts, or grab fast food on the run, and stock has disappeared from the American tradition.

Grandmother Knew Best

Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

Fish stock, according to traditional lore, helps boys grow up into strong men, makes childbirth easy and cures fatigue. “Fish broth will cure anything,” is another South American proverb. Broth and soup made with fishheads and carcasses provide iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances.

When broth is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Gelatin was probably the first functional food, dating from the invention of the “digestor” by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Papin’s digestor consisted of an apparatus for cooking bones or meat with steam to extract the gelatin. Just as vitamins occupy the center of the stage in nutritional investigations today, so two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food research. Gelatin was universally acclaimed as a most nutritious foodstuff particularly by the French, who were seeking ways to feed their armies and vast numbers of homeless in Paris and other cities. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal. During the siege of Paris, when vegetables and meat were scarce, a doctor named Guerard put his patients on gelatin bouillon with some added fat and they survived in good health.

The French were the leaders in gelatin research, which continued up to the 1950s. Gelatin was found to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer. Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk. The American researcher Francis Pottenger pointed out that as gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids, it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut. Even the epicures recognized that broth-based soup did more than please the taste buds. “Soup is a healthy, light, nourishing food” said Brillant-Savarin, “good for all of humanity; it pleases the stomach, stimulates the appetite and prepares the digestion.”

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